The Whispering Warriors - How to Help Introverts Succeed in the Age of Acceleration
By Jane Finkle
According to an article in Leader to Leader, based on a survey by USA Today, four out of five introverts believe that extroverts are more likely to get ahead in their workplace. More than 40 percent of introverted leaders report that they would like to possess more extroverted characteristics. If most introverts believe their quiet nature is a disadvantage to their career advancement, career practitioners need to understand the nature and needs of this group to help provide the support and tools that will boost an introvert’s confidence. Introverts can succeed in the rapidly changing workplace if they embrace the attributes of their introversion and sprinkle in some extroverted skills such as speaking up, promoting themselves and their ideas, and taking initiative.
The Biggest Challenges Introverts Face
Shining a light on accomplishments as well as cultivating the ability to highlight personal talents and skills can prove to be challenging for some introverts. Even though introverts are fully capable of sustaining productive relationships, they tend to favor privacy. This could stem from some introverts not always recognizing the importance of reaching out and initiating relationships. Their reticent and reserved style can cause them to falter in areas critical to career success such as building and expanding professional networks, performing well in interviews, or speaking up at meetings.
As career practitioners, we can support introverts with tools and approaches that can boost their confidence and help them achieve career success.
Three Golden Rules for Speaking Up
When introverts have time to collect their thoughts and practice what they want to say, they can perform at a high level and be equally engaging as any extrovert. Whether it is coming up with a script for networking, prepping for an interview, or jotting down notes before a staff meeting, introverts can rely on their strengths and a dose of extroverted energy to see them through. And most important, realize they can be a powerful force in the workplace. These three golden rules for speaking up can be applied in situations when it is beneficial for thoughts and ideas to be externalized.
Reflect- Introverts use time to think as a powerful ally in the development of ideas and the solution to problems. This tendency to calmly reflect often opens the door to identifying their talents and accomplishments and generating new ideas and novel inventions or strategies. Career practitioners can encourage introverts to take advantage of their natural ability to dig deeper by asking questions such as “what is the most important point you want to make?” or “How would this idea add value to the organization?”
Preparation- Actively writing things down fires up the synapses in the brain. In doing so, introverts can form an outline or bullet list of pertinent ideas that represents the points or the answers they want to convey. Other strategies, like PowerPoint or video clips, can also contribute to organizing thoughts and ideas by adding an appealing visual element and reducing some oral presentation time for introverts. By introducing a variety of tools and approaches, practitioners can help introverts organize their thoughts and ideas, take new risks, and increase their chances of successfully articulating concepts and ideas to an audience
Rehearse- It may be enough to simply review notes a few times in a quiet and relaxed space. Some introverts can become especially nervous before an interview, prior to a meeting, or in anticipation of an event that is particularly important. The reassuring nature presented by practicing with a career practitioner who is supportive and offers candid feedback can help alleviate anxiety for introverts. Other techniques like creative visualization, role-playing, and cognitive behavioral approaches are tools that can also build confidence.
Networking-Taking Center Stage
The thirty-second elevator speech has become a popular means of self-promotion. Introverts may view this as a sales pitch working against their nature. I developed the SAVVY formula, custom made for introverts, to help them reflect and tell a compelling career story to network contacts. This formula covers the most important elements and significant accomplishments in anyone’s career. My clients who lean towards introversion respond more positively to the term SAVVY and this simple process for organizing their thoughts. After completing their SAVVY script, my introverted leaning clients know what to say when they meet an important contact and feel more confident at networking.
S– Synopsis- Short overview of your career history, education, training, or certifications that support qualifications
A– Accomplishments: Two to three achievements pulled from previous experience that demonstrates a significant outcome or major impact.
V– Value: Specific skills and abilities that demonstrate how you can add value.
V– Virtue: Personal qualities such as “enthusiastic,” “dedicated,” and “creative.”
Y– Your interest: What you are looking for in this field or industry or your reason for reaching out to the contact.
Social Media: The Perfect Marketing Tool for Introverts
Social media enables introverts to put quality thought into building a personal brand and establishing an attractive online presence. Social media gives an introvert time to think before writing while quietly researching information without interruption. Beyond reaching out and establishing valuable professional contacts, introverts can easily enhance their visibility by writing and posting articles on LinkedIn and Twitter or creating their own blog to showcase their expertise. Social media is a vital professional tool for everyone, but it can play a pivotal role in supporting a modest introvert’s potential to succeed in today’s competitive market.
Strengths of Introversion
Introverts bring to relationships and their work a quiet power. They tend to possess the ability for intense concentration as well as being highly perceptive and observant. Their intense and calm approach allows them to dig deep and generate productive solutions to organizational problems. With their natural curiosity and ability to concentrate, introverts often ask insightful questions that can impact important decisions.
We know introverts can be successful. Just look at icons Bill Gates and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Introverts can benefit from guidance and support in harnessing their power and believing that even the quiet ones can change the world.
Leader to Leader Institute. (2009). Leadership Strategies for Introverts. Volume 2009 (54), 59-60.
Jane Finkle is a career coach and consultant in private practice with over 25 years of experience helping clients to envision and achieve careers that are fulfilling and personally enriching. Jane is currently an external alumni career coach for University of Pennsylvania’s undergraduate and graduate programs. She has been published in Patch.com. Huffington Post and Adirondack Life. Her first book, The Introvert’s Complete Career Guide: From Landing a job, to Surviving, Thriving and Moving on Up (Career Press) is scheduled for publication-February, 2019. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org www.janefinkle.com